Monday, June 28, 2021

The surfside tragedy.

The events that unfolded around the condo collapsing have really hit home.

I'm a native of south Florida, lived near the coast for all of my youth, and still reside here in the southern part of the state. I also happen to be a professional engineer in the state - even though I don't practice in buildings, I still take it personally when an engineering issue surfaces that affects people; we as a group are a part of the public trust.

So there are many connections for me.

But there's another thought that crossed my mind.

Back in 1979 or so, when I was in middle school, one of my teachers (who perhaps was a little eccentric) was talking about the buildings being built along the coast of south Florida.

He had some issue with construction on the sand and construction techniques. 13 year old me remembers some bits of what he said, but in all it was about money and shoddy construction.

I recall him saying something like "One day it will catch up." That thought has crossed my mind a time or two, but never really concerned me.

I remember talking with my dad (also a professional engineer who believed in "the system") about it; he took the altruistic view that the engineers and such would do their job. And there maybe shouldn't be concerns.

And here we are a little over 40 years later, and a condo built in that era suffered a catastrophic failure - perhaps because of an engineering or design issue (at least that's how it appears…The report on the building, and others like it, would certainly seem to paint a picture of many mistakes being made) …. So it turns out that my old teacher was probably right, after all.

* for the casual reader, I am not providing any sort of engineering analysis, or otherwise presenting a professional opinion. I am stating my personal opinion, based on things I've seen in the media. I note my professional affiliation simply to show how deeply personally connected I am to the events.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

That’s odd

One of the cruise lines ran a short "test cruise" with some number of passengers. They all tested negative for coronavirus before setting out. And when they returned, two tested positive.

There was reportedly a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people on board and these two were apparently vaccinated.

While they didn't get sick (and as far as we know, no one else did either), it is strange that they tested positive after being confined on a ship for a couple of days.

Then there was another story about a ship that was getting ready for the first sail of the season had 9 crew members test positive, putting that on hold.

This case is likewise bizarre. For the most part, the crew reportedly had been mostly vaccinated.  And you have to understand that most cruise ships have been sailing "in circles" for the last 15 months with their crews on board.

It's not like they could dock the ships. And with international crews whose countries went through various stages of lockdown, it made sense.

It's fair to say that some were able to leave at times, but until this latest test, none had tested positive before.

So there's something going on. And as a way of looking at this, consider the various norovirus outbreaks that have happened on cruise ships, and how they continued for long periods in spite of the best efforts in sanitation. 

I can't imagine the coronavirus will be any easier to contain. In fact, I'm sure it will be harder. 

And once again to the foolish who decide that the virus is a joke and decide to take a cruise unvaccinated: good luck. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Follow up on mask wearing

A friend and I were discussing the idea that vaccinated people don't need to wear masks. The outcome….

Of course, masks are there to protect *me* from you. Not the other way around.

So when businesses glibly say "if you're vaccinated, feel free to not wear a mask," they are implying "and fuck the idiots who chose not to get vaccinated"

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Unclear concept

I've seen a number of signs in different places of business telling people "if you are vaccinated, feel free to enter without a mask. But if you are unvaccinated you need to wear a mask."

What baffles me is the fact that I am wearing a mask to protect others. Not to protect myself - that's the nature of a virus.

So telling the vaccinated to go about their business is the opposite of how this is supposed to work.

But that's Murica for you I guess.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Going pescatarian

Last year, I wrote about switching to a mostly plant-based diet (ie vegetarian), with some fish mixed in (so pescatarian).

It’s been a year and I can honestly say that I do not miss meat whatsoever.  This transition has been great for me and I have really taken to it  

When I last wrote about my experience, I wondered if I would try lamb again.  I won’t.  A friend had some at a small gathering we went to, and while it looked appealing and smelled good, I wasn’t even tempted to try it.  

And as for BBQ, the thing I missed the most was the smokiness and sort of the texture  I have been able to replicate that fairly well in plants.  I get my smoky “meatiness” and it’s satisfying with a little sauce.  I don’t miss it and I won’t be going back. 

I’ve managed to cultivate a number of recipes to give me the flavors and textures I want.  And that makes me happy.  

I would also say that in general my health has been good, and I generally feel better than I had previously.  I know some foods would give me a headache or make me feel sluggish.  That has not been the case since I changed my diet.


Tuesday, June 8, 2021

People am stupid

As the pandemic took hold in this country, I struggled to put together my disney podcast on a regular basis.

The uncertain future, and the fact that the happiest place - where you could cast away your troubles - was closed made it tough sailing.

And that's when reality and fantasy collided in a different way. Disney is deeply embedded in politics. Look … Walt himself testified at the McCarthy hearings. There was always a need to ingratiate himself with politicians to get what he wanted. And, of course, disneys relationship with the state of Florida is nothing short of a political maneuver; we might not have disney world if it weren't for politics being at the forefront . And never mind the shnizzle the donald pulled to get himself into the hall of presidents.

Make no mistake: disney and politics are inexorably linked.

Overall, I prefer to stay out of that conversation because I know people just want to talk about the "fun" disney. I can be respectful of that and tried to always frame it in a historical context.

But here it was. Right in my face. The Donald was saying this would go away. The pinhead gov of Florida threw caution to the wind and did everything he could (and still can do!) to get disney world reopened because it suited him and his politics.

So I said some things about it and then I took a break.

And came back to something unexpected.

Disney world had re-opened, and I started hearing from some whackadoodles about how they wanted to - very selfishly - have a vacation for themselves. And how dare anyone stop them, or disney make them wear masks, or limit attendance, etc, etc. pandemic be damned!

Disney wasn't right here, either. Clearly, this was a money play. Sure in a way there was some relief to the nation, and you kept people employed. So winning, I guess? But it was a calculated risk.

So I came back and talked about it. I kept at it for a few months, going back and forth talking about history, and talking about what was going on at disney. Again with my point of view. I wasn't singing anyone's praises; I was being honest.

But some people can't handle that.

An election. A fucking insurrection. Bad behavior all around. I played the hall of presidents without the Donald speaking and reminded that disney will have to deal with what happened, in due time.

And I took another break because it was just too much, once again. People wanted to have fun with disney and not worry about the politics. They were, in a word, selfish.

I saw my listenership drop, and got rather a lot of feedback that I was a libtard and why couldn't I focus on disney? Some of it was downright nasty.

Ummmmm. Yeah. See my previous comment about how things are linked.

If people heard me and decided to think that of me, then my message of hope, of a better future, of this connection, got through.

And the fact that I struck a nerve tells me that people are stupid. They choose to follow the dumbasses of the world and be blind to reality. That's not at all fine, and our poor education system shines through. But first amendment, AmIRight?

But … I am going to speak. To stand up for those who are being silenced. Against the disney corporation where it needs it. And certainly against politicians who are connected to disney.

And that's when I redefined myself again and started talking only about history, and added "one little spark" to my podcast to hilight a social issue of the day.

Someone has to speak up. And if you don't like it, then feel free not to listen.

Disney and politics. They have been, and will always, be linked. And if you can't see it, or that bothers you, well that's a you problem.

As I used to say "my podcast, my rules"

Monday, June 7, 2021

What a cluster..f*ck. Cruise edition.

Last year, as the pandemic was taking hold, VP pence, senators rubio and Scott, and gov desantis stood at the cruise terminal in Fort Lauderdale, and made clear their aim was to protect the cruise industry from harm during the pandemic.

It was clear they were only talking about this huge moneymaker, with its tourism dollars and financial contributions to their political campaigns. Not to protect people or the general business. No this was about protecting their wealthy donors.

Flash forward and pence is gone. And rubio and Scott have different priorities. They are still be interested in political contributions, but they've stayed oddly quiet on this issue. It should be obvious, of course, that they are only in it for themselves.

So desantis is on his own. He wants the industry to bring tourist money to the state. He wants to help them so he comes off as some kind of hero, financially, and to try and help his own re-election.

He issues some BS orders and has legislation that gives him supreme authority in the state. Over municipalities. Over tourist related business. And effectively over the cruise industry.

The CDC issues guidelines for cruising. Those don't meet with what he wants and he sues. They try to mediate. That goes nowhere.

So cruising is stuck. Executives of the cruise lines have no idea what to do and engaged their lawyers to figure it all out.

Some are running "test cruises" this week, with no idea how that will go. And it's completely unclear whether/how sailing will start in July.

And then there's this little nugget. If this doesn't get worked out soon, or even if it does in a nuanced way that it tilts toward Florida, some cruise lines not leaving Florida will be impacted and may not be able to sail at all.

Take the Alaskan cruise lines that already made arrangements to leave from seattle and not stop in Canada. They had to make some legal changes to accommodate.

And some of those may not be doable for these large companies that do business in multiple states because of the flori-duh rules.

In short, desantis is in it for himself and he's left everyone scratching their heads just to score some sort of "victory" for himself.

That's your ball licking trump supporter right there.